Trendy liquid nitrogen cocktails might look cool, but they should be consumed with caution, a Toronto bartender warns, amid reports that a British woman nearly died after drinking one of the cloudy concoctions.

Fewer than a dozen bars in Toronto use liquid nitrogen to mix with drinks. The clear and colourless substance, which evaporates at room temperature and creates swirls of vapour, is highly volatile.

Liquid nitrogen has a boiling point of -196 C.

"You have a lot of people getting into it who don't necessarily know how powerful and dangerous this stuff can be," said bartender Simon Ho, who has experience using the substance in cocktails and desserts at Toronto's Drake Hotel.

Ho said he understands the appeal of the ingredient because of its visual effect.

But last week, a British teen named in reports as 18-year-old Gabby Scanlan had to have her stomach removed after trying a liquid nitrogen drink at a bar in northern England.

'Tore her stomach apart'

She had complained about feeling breathless and developed intense stomach pain. It was later discovered that her stomach was perforated and she underwent surgery to have it removed.

Doctors said the operation likely saved her life.

Ho suspects that the girl ingested her drink too quickly.

"The liquid nitrogen boiled, and the vapour expanded and tore her stomach apart," he speculated.

"It's not a toy. As fun as it can be, you have to very careful."

According to reports, the British teen is in stable condition and the bar that served her has since stopped selling drinks containing liquid nitrogen. Authorities are investigating the incident.

With files from CBC's Steven D'Souza